EA has canceled NBA Live 20, which was previously delayed past its September window once meant to coincide with the NBA season's tipoff. The cancellation marks the fifth time in the past decade that EA has skipped out on delivering a basketball sim to players including four cancellations and one outright year off for development time. On the off-years when they have released a game, they've had a rough time trying to compete with NBA 2K, which routinely earns commendations as being among the best annual sports sims.
In an earnings call with investors, EA CEO Andrew WIlson told investors they've decided to forego another year and look ahead to building something special for the launch of the new consoles next holiday season.
"We’re not launching a new NBA Live HD product this season," said Wilson. "Instead, we’re expanding our vision, leaning hard into the new leading-edge platforms, and taking the time to ensure we deliver against the opportunity for our players.”
Three recent games in the series were also cancelled including NBA Elite 11, NBA Live 13, and NBA Live 17. In the case of NBA Live 13, it came after the company deliberately took the extra year off for what would've been NBA Live 12, but they still couldn't get a new game out the door for the subsequent season.
In year's past, the game has failed to threaten the NBA 2K market share, which has ingrained itself as the go-to game for basketball fans, especially younger fans. 2K Day is an unofficial holiday for fans on social media, who post the elaborate ways they celebrate the game's launch each September.
NBA Live hasn't garnered much social cache since the PS2 days, which was when the 2K series began to catch up and eventually overtook its spot as the game most fans and critics prefer. It's a distinction 2K has never relinquished.
Interestingly, there remains an opportunity for EA to close the gap given how NBA 2K20 is the series' second lowest-rated game of this generation after the Switch version of 2K17, with many players citing the game's microtransactions as having gone a bridge too far, including its use of an in-game casino where players can spend real money. Still, last month it became 2019's best-selling video game after just a few weeks of sales.
EA has been trying to shed its own reputation for predatory pay models in its games since Star Wars Battlefront II lit a fire in many players' hearts to push back against the industry's trend toward pay-to-win multiplayer. These days, it's become a central marketing bullet point for EA games to inform players when there will be no microtransactions in a particular game, like Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order.